Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 33; 146, Isaiah 9:2-7, 2 Peter 1:12-21, Luke 22:54-69
They said, “If you are the Messiah, tell us.” He replied, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer.
When Jesus was arrested and brought before the Jewish authorities, they purposely put him in a no-win scenario. If he claimed to be the Messiah they would charge him with blasphemy and the Romans would charge him with sedition. Denying it would undermine his entire ministry. Keeping silent enabled them to impose whatever meaning best benefited them onto his silence. He responded simply by pointing these things out.
Have you been in a situation where there was no right answer? Most of us have. Like Christ, we may find ourselves damned by both our words and our silence. Unlike Christ we almost never have to face consequences like crucifixion (and probably shouldn’t compare minor inconveniences to that event), but the very real consequences can result in professional, personal, and/or social damage. When facing a no-win situation, the best option is the one that maintains personal and spiritual integrity.
We are less likely to recognize when we are on the other side – when we have made up our minds that a person can do no right. Many a marriage or friendship struggles when one party or the other uses some grievance or infraction to dismiss all efforts, whether good or bad, from the other. Because we feel aggrieved, we feel justified. In a professional setting, a single mistake can kill an otherwise successful career, while less illustrious co-workers prosper because their mistakes haven’t been revealed. In politics, we can (and are encouraged to) dismiss everything the opposition party proposes simply because it came from “the other side.”
None of us wants to be defined by our mistakes, so we should not define others that way either. Individual and community relationships should, to the best of our abilities, mirror the divine forgiveness and redemption we find in Christ. Christ has not forgiven our sins and mistakes just so we can hold them against each other. We are a reconciling people; let’s act like it.
Comfort: God’s opinion of you is not swayed by the opinions of others.
Challenge: Is there anyone in your life you automatically dismiss, whether consciously or unconsciously? Seek to find common ground with that person.
Prayer: God of forgiveness, teach me to see others not through eyes of judgment but through eyes of love. Amen.
Discussion: Have you ever found yourself in a no-win situation?
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